Film Reviews
Photo courtesy of Kani Releasing

It is a special treat to see influential films of the mentors of iconic directors. That’s exactly the bonus for a one-night only, June 20, screening of Hong Kong director Patrick Tam’s 1989 “My Heart Is That Eternal Rose.” In the ‘80s, Tam distinguished himself as part of the Hong Kong New Wave and clearly influenced Wong Kar Wai.

The familiar plot involves ruthless crime boss Godfather Sheng, an irresistible young woman Lap, her true love Rick, and another enamored young man, Ah Cheung, questioning and resisting the triad. The plot involves Lap’s father’s bar, a triad job gone wrong, family members used for leverage in intimidation and victimization, and a hit man. As expected of ‘80s Hong Kong cinema, several fast, brutal shootouts occur with maximum gunfire blasting away, slow motion writhing bodies, blood spurting, and Kwok-Kuen Cheung’s rapid editing in the action scenes.

Aesthetically, co-cinematographers Christopher Doyle and David Chung create gorgeous compositions bathing them in color: green, blue, yellow, red. Known for his work beginning in 1990 with Wong Kar-wai, Doyle provided cinematography for over fifty Chinese films, among the most celebrated, the exquisite “In the Mood for Love” (2000). The star of that film and many others, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai plays Cheung here, his charisma already on full display as he commands even his minimal appearance. The distinguished cast includes Joey Wang, considered one of the Four Flowers of Hong Kong cinema, as Lap; Michael Wai-Man Chan, self-admittedly involved with triads in real life and expelled from his initial role as a police officer, here as triad boss Shen; and Kenny Bee, Hong Kong singer, as Rick Ma, Lap’s real love.

Danny Chung’s music complements the moody scenes and effectively underlines the more frenetic, violent ones. Unavailable for years, a new 2K restoration has returned this treasure to Hong Kong film lovers. In Cantonese with English subtitles, the new 2K restoration of “My Heart Is That Eternal Rose” screens at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium one night only, Thursday, June 20, at 7:30. For more information, you may visit the film series website.

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